Since the industrial revolution began around 1750, we have become more and more reliant on machines. Cars, televisions and coffee makers graduated to computers and cellular devices. With these electronics came an increase in EMF emissions, and while their perceived danger is open for debate, their existence is not.
What are EMF Emissions?
Depending upon the source, EMF can represent either “electromagnetic fields” or “electrical and magnetic forces”, however, when discussing EMF emissions the World Health Organization (WHO) considers
electromagnetic fields. Electromagnetic fields exist everywhere in nature. It is the earth’s magnetic field that causes a compass needle to always point north and that same field helps birds fly south for the winter. However, they can also be man-made; they are created when an electrical current flows, and the greater the current, the stronger the magnetic field.
EMF emissions, also known as electromagnetic radiation,are produced in varying degrees by different sources:
- Electric–anythingpoweredbyelectricitybutalsoincluding power lines and transformerso
- Household or kitchen appliances, lighting, electricheaters, hair dryers or curlers, electronic devicessuch as computers and cell phones, stereos andtelevisions, etc.
- Magnetic–createdbymovingelectriccurrentsorelectron motiono
- Previously mentioned electrical sources, gaspowered engines, air conditioning units, etc.
- Wireless–anythingthatsendsasignalwithoutwiresis creating an EMFo
- Wi-fi, radio frequency, cellular devices, networkdevices such as printers, cell towers, broadbandtowers,GPS, baby monitors, in some areas evenelectrical meter reporting has gone wireless
- UV rays, x-rays, gamma rays, etc.
The level of electromagnetic radiation is clearly going to vary from one source to another. Items that plug in transfer VLF or very low frequency and A/C or alternating current (which will create a smaller, less dangerous EMF), while power lines and transformers will be moving more electricity much faster creating a higher EMF. Of course, x-rays and gamma rays are the highest and thus most dangerous.
What are the dangers?
Due to the chemical reactions that take place as part of normal bodily functions, there are tiny electrical currents that exist within the body. Nerves relay signals by transmitting electric impulses. Messages travel down the spinal cord from the brain to the muscles, organs and glands. Synapses in the brain fire and send signals between neurons. All of these and more are little electrical currents within the body.
The World Health Organization says, “Low-frequency magnetic fields induce circulating currents within the human body. The strength of these currents depends on the intensity of the outside magnetic field. If sufficiently large, these currents could cause stimulation of nerves and
muscles or affect other biological processes.”
“It is believed thatd amaging effects at a cellular level may occur with extended exposure to EMF emissions.”
In other words, outside electrical currents can create electromagnetic fields (EMF) that can actually affect those same internal electrical currents.
The typical exposure to EMF on a daily basis will not be equivalent to having x-rays, but it is believed that damaging effects at a cellular level may occur with extended exposure to EMF emissions.
For instance, the Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany, Dr. David Carpenter, believes that up to 30% of all childhood cancers likely come from exposure to EMF emissions.
Additionally, several studies have been conducted to see if there is a link between high-voltage overhead power lines and childhood leukemia. While many medical news sources will claim no causal link, there are published studies that say otherwise.
In 1997 the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine which found a statistically significant increase in childhood cancer in children exposed to power lines. A study published in the British Journal of Cancer in 2013 based on a 5-year study of pediatric leukemia patients in France concluded, “The present study, free from any participation bias, supports the previous international findings of an increase in [childhood acute leukemia] incidence close to [power lines].”
Other health problems that may be associated with EMF emissions include: neurological and behavioral changes; altered cell growth or cell mutations (potentially linked to miscarriages); fibromyalgia; chronic fatigue; weakened immune system; forgetfulness or dementia; depression;
Being exposed to EMF emissions is nothing new since the advent of electrical appliances, lighting and other devices. The concern has grown in concert with the increase of man-made electromagnetic fields due to the advancement of technology.
The fact is that exposure to EMF emissions has grown exponentially over the past 10 years as cellular devices and wireless technology has brought a marked change in telecommunications and broadcasting.
What can be done?
The first step is to determine if a problem exists. EMF meters or magnetometers exist that can measure the electromagnetic fields in a home or business. Created by Carl Friedrich Gauss in 1833, the gaussmeter or Gauss meter can be purchased at most online retailers. There’s even a “Gauss Meter” app available at iTunes.
The problem is there are no limits in place, no standards set. While it is clear that there is a concern, the United States has “no federal standards limiting occupational or residential exposure”. In the United Kingdom “there are, so far, no statutory exposure limits”. Most other countries
follow the guidelines created in 1998 by the International. Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP);however, those guidelines have no actual limits in place and, unfortunately, there is no governing body in place to protect the public.
Although no actual standards exist, the typical reference level for public exposure (according to the ICNIRP) is less than 100µT, but this may be higher than is actually safe.
Consider the following recommendations made by Vicki Warren, former Executive Director of the Bau-Biologie Group, during an interview with Joseph Mercola, D.O.:
- Cordless telephone bases should not be on a nightstand, desk or end table. Since the radiation emitted by wireless communications decreases linearly, there should be a significant distance between the user and the source to sufficiently reduce exposure.
- Computer and phone chargers are typically ungrounded, so ideally these should only be used when running on batteries and never while plugged in. Additionally, laptops should not be placed directly on the lap but should be used with a lap pad available at most computer or office supply stores. If possible, also use a shield against the electric field. This can be accomplished by adding a reflective material to the lap pad.
- Sleeping with the head of the bed against a wall with electrical outlets creates an 8-hour or more exposure to EMF emissions. Consider moving the bed to another wall or at least 3 feet away from the wall. Another option is to sleep with the head at the foot of the bed.
Despite a lack of government recommendations for avoiding EMF emissions, it’s important to understand that, for many reasons, children may be at a higher risk.
- Cell phone usage by children can be a concern
- Children’s beds should be against a wall without electrical outlets
- Alarm clocks or portable radios should be battery powered/operated at night.
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